Category Archives: 1960′s

Photos VA Chapel and Weston, MO house courtesy of Jeanne

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Possumly Jesse James, or a Younger or Dalton or someone else lived here, or visited here, or rode a horse by the place and gazed at it as he/she went by.

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!895 Chapel for VA Center at Fort Leavenworth in seriously bad repair. Protestant downstairs, Catholic further downstairs though the signs are somewhat misleading. No harm in a protestant attending Mass or a Catholic racking up some fire and brimstone occasionally, I reckons.

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Interesting stained glass work. Dunno whether it’s Catholic or the other one.

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Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

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The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

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The metalwork on those doors is probably symbolic of something, but everyone who once knew what it was is dead.

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This end of the building is in bad repair threatening collapse in places, but ain’t likely to get any better.

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Directly across the street from the chapel. It’s been through a long series of declines and repairs but we need another World War of considerable duration to bring it back to full bloom. Need to conscript all these young houdilums and get them on track to need a place such as this.

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The sign above the door reads, THE DUGOUT and can still be made out with a bit of squinting. I’m thinking it was a club for the people going through treatment, might have been used as recently as the Vietnam War.

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The Dugout

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A morning on the VA medical launchpad

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I don’t know a lot more about my health this afternoon than I knew when I awakened this morning, but I know a good deal more about other interesting matters than I once did.  Went through the television interview with some people somewhere else asking about various health issues.  This evidently resulted in checkmarks going to a file telling them what testing to do afterward in the lab.

Judging from the tests the interviewers weren’t discounting a hyperfunctioning thyroid, though they  were closed-mouth about any opinions they formed during the interview.  They did hint at the possibility I might want to take it easy and not do anything particular until I’ve seen the doctor on the 20th of December.

But hanging around that waiting area was worth the price of admission.  Discovered what a huge percentage of the circa 1965-1975 US Army, AF, Navy and Marine Corps who end up getting health treatment from the VA have discovered they were point-men infantrymen, snipers, and other non-company clerk in Danang, personnel or supply clerk, cooks, or motorpool monkeys in Siagon [folks comprising 90+ percent of the Vietnam jobs of the time].

Which is to say, when you’re an old bastard and find your life hasn’t been sufficiently interesting, you can sit in the waiting room at the VA and blow smoke up the asses of a lot of other old guys.  And if you do, some others will crawl out of the wood work to provide an atmosphere of reciprocity and mutual ex post facto revisions of history.  I’ve got a feeling the non-vet practice promiscuously using phrases such as, ‘fought for our freedoms,’ or ‘fought in Vietnam’  brings the incentive.  If you were in Vietnam and never heard a shot fired in anger along with almost everyone else in Vietnam, how do you reconcile it with someone accusing you of ‘fighting for our freedoms?’  Or, ‘fought in Vietnam’?

Lordee what a needy bunch of sons of bitches we Americans are in our dotage.

Old Jules’

Big Spring Buggaboo Karma on the Half-shell

Hi readers.

1967, I’m going to say, though it might have been 1968, my somewhat newlywed wife and I headed from Houston to my home town of Portales, NM, for reasons I no longer fathom.  Driving a 10 year-old Fairlane 500.  Crossed the easy Texas parts without incident, but around midnight pulled over 12 miles outside Big Spring, TX to piss and kiss, most likely.

Shut down the engine and when I went to start it again the battery was dead.  Soooo, we bundled up and tried to sleep, but pre-dawn I was on the shoulder of the road trying to flag down someone with booster cables.  Watching the light emerge and a mesa-like hill across the highway a few miles.

Nice guy in a pickup stopped and boosted us off.  When I thanked him he commented he just couldn’t leave anyone stranded 12 miles outside Big Spring, Texas.  Fixed that hill to the west and the distance in my mind forever.

So last week when I was headed here, saw the sign south of Big Spring, BIG SPRING 13 miles and remembered, began watching for that hill.  There it was, just as obvious as that morning so long ago.

BOOM WHACK CLUNKCLUNKCLUNKBANGCLUNK!

Blew out the inside rear tire on the driver side.

But no way I was  pulling over and shutting down my engine.  So I drove on into Big Spring, eased west toward Andrews.  Didn’t blow the second tire until 15 miles from here.

Some things in this life a person doesn’t need to learn twice.  Even if he’s me.  That place 12 miles south of Big Springs is one of them.

Jack

J. D. Salinger needs a good horse-whipping

Five new JD Salinger books on the way

Titles expected between 2015 and 2020

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/03/new-jd-salinger-fiction-documentary

Hi readers.

When J.D. Salinger went stealth in the 1960s I didn’t think he could hold out.  I snickered to myself and said he was in there writing books and one day he’d lose his determination and drop them on me like depth charges.  I figured I could hold out longer than he could.

Eventually I began to think I had him figured wrong maybe.  That he’d either burned all his stuff and wasn’t writing more, or that he was a Class A horses ass and just wasn’t going to let any of it go public until after he died.  Then he died and for a while I was sure that now, now, now, here they’d come!

They didn’t, and when I turned 70 one of the things I had to reconcile myself to was that J.D. Salinger wasn’t gonna have anymore books during my lifetime.  Decided he was indeed a Class A horses ass.

But yesterday Jeanne sent me the link above.  Oh, yeah.  Thanks a lot, J.D. Salinger.  2015.  Hell, I went out to the RV, took some mega vitamins checked my blood pressure, then checked over the cats trying to figure out what we all need to do in order to survive until 2015.

I’m thinking it’s going to be a cliff-hanger, but we’ve got a middling good shot at lasting until the first one.  I’m okay, the cats seem okay.  I’ll gear up the cat-vitamins just to help us along, make sure they eat less hard food and more canned food, and we’ll take a run at it.  Might even squeeze it all the way to the last one in 2020.

But if J.D. Salinger happens to only be pretending to be dead I’d love to say a few choice words to him.

Old Jules

Just to clarify the JFK LBJ thing

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Jeanne told me on the phone last night she was surprised by my several references to LBJ arranging for the death of JFK.  “I didn’t think you believed in conspiracies, for the most part.”

And for the most part she’s right.  I don’t believe human beings are honest enough and consistent enough to pull off successful conspiracies over the long haul.  Someone’s going to let the cat out of the bag.  And I think the cat has been coming out of the bag about the Kennedy assassination gradually for a considerable while.

I don’t know or care who was directly responsible for the Dallas shooting.  To me, JFK was just another US President, no better, no worse than the last several.  I’m not offended, not in any way exercized by the fact someone offed him.

But I do believe there’s a fair body of evidence LBJ knew ahead of time Kennedy was going to be killed.  And he knew who knew everything else about it.  Other than that he mightn’t have been involved, beyond giving it his tacit approval.

The LBJ Library in Austin has the tapes of all the White House LBJ telephone conversations of the time.  Here’s a conversation between LBJ and J Edgar Hoover, FBI Director, shortly after the Dallas event.  LBJ starts by grilling Hoover about why his friend John Connally, Governor of Texas, got a bullet.  Then he goes on to discuss how the investigation into the assassination can be kept small.

LBJ TAPES: Kennedy Assassination 1 (J. Edgar Hoover) .
http://youtu.be/4ZWERQevzms

Seems to me it’s clear that Hoover knew exactly who did the shooting and what the shooter intended to hit.  And that LBJ knew that Hoover knew.

The people who upload YouTube videos frequently intend to use the videos to help watchers interpret them as the uploaders think they should.  I believe this has happened with a number of the Kennedy assassination YouTube videos.  For instance, I don’t believe LBJ’s mistress knew whether LBJ engineered the killing of JFK.  But I believe it’s clear from what she describes that LBJ knew about the plans to kill Kennedy before it happened.

LBJ’s Mistress Blows Whistle On JFK Assassination .http://youtu.be/79lOKs0Kr_Y

Again, I don’t think this means LBJ told anyone to kill Kennedy.  He might just have tacitly approved of them doing it and agreed to keep his mouth shut.

By one of those strange coincidences of history, Richard Nixon, a man who hated Kennedy as much as anyone alive at the time, happened to have been in Dallas for a couple of days when Kennedy came to town.

November 21, 1963 – Richard M. Nixon in Dallas, Texas .
http://youtu.be/UkeCQWk9ID8

Nixon evidently believed there was a middling good chance LBJ had Kennedy shot, as he joked years later.

NIXON jokes about LBJ killing JFK .
http://youtu.be/OJIb73SPzkE

E. Howard Hunt, one of the guys who went to prison for the Watergate affair, admitted on his death bed he’d been involved in the Kennedy killing and named others.

E. Howard Hunt Outs Lyndon Johnson in JFK Assassination Plot
http://youtu.be/bD4611qW6R8

This one’s hokey and unreliable, but I think at least it can be said RFK probably believed LBJ had John Kennedy killed.

RFK to Johnson: “Why did you kill you have my brother killed
http://youtu.be/zzWNDPx4Pm0

The conversation you hear on tape isn’t about LBJ, JFK, though.  It’s about Hoover investigating RFK and whether RJK is trying to violently overthrow LBJ and the US Government by force.

Lyndon Johnson Admits To Walter Cronkite That He Killed Kennedy .
http://youtu.be/xd1wuXrVPjo

This Walter Cronkite interview with LBJ years later is probably the strongest testimony that LBJ didn’t actually give the orders for the killing.  But that he thoroughly believed there was a conspiracy involved involving several others.

As I’ve said, I don’t think it matters who was behind the Kennedy killing.  Nor why they did it.  But I don’t blame LBJ for being pissed Connally got shot with JFK.  Connally was still alive, knew a lot about LBJ and was able to talk.  LBJ needed to be able to assure Connelly it was an accident, him getting hit.

John Connally’s first interview after 11/22/63
http://youtu.be/cP04_lGjkO0

Collateral damages, no harm intended.  “Sorry old buddy.  Someone screwed up.”

And 50 years later, who the hell cares?  Human beings make lousy conspirators.  People eventually talk.

Old Jules

John F. Kennedy and Barbie go to Boston – 1962 – The rest of the story

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I promised the other day that I’d relate one more precious memory of John and Jackie Kennedy’s Boston adventure. 

A better way – Getting new royalty when the President croaks

So here it is.

All those men lined up along Boylston Street, including Julio, Tonyand I were still mesmerized by the thoughts of whether Jackie Kennedy would be an inspired bed partner.  The street between the police cordons was vacant for a moment, when suddenly the sound of a bell clanging brought our attention back.

Hell bent down empty Boylston came a vehicle pulling an open trailer.  A guy was on the back of the trailer ringing a huge bell mounted there, big bell.  Church bell sized, rather than locomotive sized.  On the side of the trailer was a huge sign, “KRUSHCHEV SAYS, ‘WE WILL BURY YOU!”

They zipped past us, hung a hard left around Boston Plaza, and swung in behind the emptying motorcade in front of the Plaza Hotel.  Still ringing that damned bell.  [Likely the granddaddy of the patriots of today, I'm thinking by hindsight.]

Friends and readers, this whole thing was not in keeping with the high standards Boston wanted in their welcoming Ken and Barbie to town.  Every cop on Boylston forgot about that yellow tape and ran across Boston Plaza, pulling their billy clubs out as they ran.  Wasn’t any time at all before that trailer was surrounded by Boston’s finest and all an observer could see was the backs of cops and a forest of billy clubs rising and falling.

They weren’t aiming for that bell, either.  Didn’t hear it clang one single time after the first club rose and fell.

But you’ve got to admit the guy had imagination and class.  A freaking liberty bell!  You surely don’t see that anymore.  All these teapartying occupiers just go around telling one another inane BS about what they think about guns and abortion and Wall Street.

If that guy with the liberty bell lived through the next five minutes after the cops got him, he might be still alive.  He could teach these modern jerks a thing or two about how to deliver messages to the Kens and Barbies.

Having some Secret Service or Homeland Security thug put a rifle bullet through your face before the cops arrived with mace and 20,000 volt non-lethal zappers to finish you off ought not deter anyone from a little display of class and imagination.

Old Jules

Farnham’s Freehold, by Robert A. Heinlein 1964

Hi readers.  Here’s another one of those old early-days RAH tomes to give you some smiles, some anachronisms to feel smug about, and a couple of truly interesting things to think about.

The first part of the book is all the usual suspects, family with a bomb shelter before the bombs fall, etc.  If you haven’t read a thousand others, might as well get it done  with this one, I reckons.

But then the bombs hit, one of them dead-center.  Spang blows Farnham and his family into sometime a longish while in the future, same spot.  Then the fun starts.

The big powers destroyed themselves and most of the other non-ethnic places full of advanced white people.  So when Farnham and his white family come up for air it isn’t long before they’re discovered by the meek who inherited the earth.  Africans, mainly, in this area.  A sort of do-it-yourself African empire sitting atop the ruins of the US.

Sure, some white people survived.  Most have been adopted as slaves in a manner similar to the way the Ottomans treated captured Europeans during an earlier time.  Bred the good ones for physical and mental traits, castrated the others and put them to work.  Kept a lot of females for breeding stock, too.

So once they’re captured, Farnham and his family are forced to adapt themselves to a lifestyle most white people have spent a lot more generations becoming unaccustomed to than was good for them.  Farnham’s wife lucks into being the paramour of one of the black rulers, and being a 20th Century mom, wants her son with her.  But him being a male, her being part of the harem, he’s got to be castrated first.  Which gives her pause, but only momentarily.

And so on.

Lots of laughs in this book.  A truly fun read.

Old Jules

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein circa 1966

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Just when you think the early work of RAH is bogging itself down in frozen-in-time anachronisms he drops a mickey into your martini.  Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one such.

Suddenly he’s taking a close look at political revolutions, at the institutions of marriage, at the relationships between men and women [and why they become what they become], why revolutions don’t work usually, and how to prevent them from becoming what revolutions invariably become.  He throws in a quickie about how you can always, always come out ahead betting the horses.  And an imaginary penal colony on the moon, several generations later when the prisoners are only a tiny percentage of a population composed mainly of the descendants of prisoners.

A society where males outnumber females 10 to 1, where the earth is on the brink of starvation and depends heavily on the labors of the Luna population for wheat production, crops catapulted to the earth surface to land in the Indian Ocean.  Depleting inevitably the water-ice reservoirs on the moon with no attempt to replace, even pay for the labors of folks who physically will never be able to ‘return’ to earth.

This was a great read in 1966, the first time I read it.  2013 I read it again, and aside from pickypickypicky details, it’s still a great read. 

Sheeze, catapults on the moon hurling rocks down the gravity well turning out the equivalents of H-bomb explosions after the earth governments dig in their heels and bomb moon colonies as an alternative to replacing the water required to grow the wheat.  A computer gone intelligent.  Marriages lasting 150 years through dozens of multiple-husbands and wives, always being replaced when one dies. 

I’d rank it one hell of a lot better than Stranger in a Strange Land.

Old Jules

Ever wondered who the Vietcong were?

Eddie Adams

Eddie Adams photo 1968

Last night I came across a thrift store book I’d never gotten around to reading.  One of those ‘last resort’ books set aside again and again.  A backup for a time when I would be desperate for anything besides the labels on sardine cans.

But as I thumbed through it I was abruptly captured.   When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey from War to Peace, by Le Ly Hayslip.

Here’s a woman born in 1949 in a Vietcong controlled village near Danang where her family’s spent the previous generations fighting, first the French, then the Japanese, then the French again.  As a small child she watches relatives and neighbors in her village raped and slaughtered by French mercenaries.  Then:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Ly_Hayslip

“Hayslip was born in Ky La, now Xa Hao Qui, a small town in central Vietnam just south of Da Nang. She was the sixth and youngest child born to farmers. American helicopters landed in her village when she was 12 years old. At the age of 14, she endured torture in a South Vietnamese government prison for “revolutionary sympathies”. After being released, she had fallen under suspicion of being a government spy, and was sentenced to death but instead raped by two Viet Cong soldiers.[2]

“She fled to Saigon, where she and her mother worked as housekeepers for a wealthy Vietnamese family, but this position ended after Hayslip’s affair with her employer and subsequent pregnancy. Hayslip and her mother fled to Da Nang. During this time, Hayslip supported both her mother and an infant son, Hung (whom she would later rename Jimmy), while unmarried and working in the black market, as an occasional drug courier and, once, as a prostitute.

“She worked for a short period of time as a nurse assistant in a Da Nang hospital and began dating Americans. She had several disastrous, heartbreaking affairs before meeting and marrying an American civilian contractor named Ed Munro in 1969. Although he was more than twice her age, she had another son with him, Thomas. The following year Hayslip moved to San Diego, California, to join him, and briefly supported her family as a homemaker. In 1973, he died of emphysema, leaving Le Ly a widow at age 24.

“In 1974 she married Dennis Hayslip. Her second marriage, however, was not a happy one. Dennis was a heavy drinker, clinically depressed and full of rage. Her third and youngest son, Alan, was fathered by Dennis and born on her 26th birthday. The couple filed for divorce in 1982 after Dennis committed domestic violence. Shortly thereafter, he was found dead in a parked van outside a school building. He had established a trust fund, however, that left his wife with some money, and he had insurance that paid off the mortgage of the house.”

So here’s a woman, a real, no-shit Vietcong, tortured by the South Vietnamese, suspected of being a traitor by the Vietcong and sentenced to death, raped and escaped.  Married a US civilian and became a US citizen.

Probably a person couldn’t be more caught-in-between from birth than she was.  Surrounded by hundreds, thousands of other peasants caught in-between.  Trying to dodge the steamrollers of forces they didn’t understand, South Vietnamese and US rifles pointed at them daytimes, Vietcong rifles pointed at them nights.

Yep, this lady is one of the people the guys with Vietnam Veteran caps walking around mining for praise and ‘Thank you,” spent their tours in Vietnam trying to kill.

Damned book ought to be required reading for anyone buying a SUPPORT OUR TROOPS sticker.  Because at a foundation level, SUPPORT OUR TROOPS isn’t about the troops.  It’s about people who are being defined as ‘the enemy’ those troops are going to do everything in their power to ruin the lives of.

People in US government who couldn’t locate the place on the map defining one side as ‘the enemy’ and the other side as ‘friends’.

Old Jules

Grandkid:  Granpaw, what did you do in the Vietnam War?

Old Vet:  I helped Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon kill a lot of people who didn’t need killing, helped destroy a country that didn’t need destroying, helped get a lot of GIs killed and maimed in the process.  And I’m damned proud I did.

Grandkid:  Oh wow!  Thank you Grandpaw!

The nightmares of acceptance

high water

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Probably I was four years old, must have been 1947, I was a kid with a recurring nightmare.  I was walking along a raised roadway with my mom, my granddad, and my two sisters.  A deep gravel pit reached alongside the road and my feet slipped, I fell and began sliding into the pit screaming for help.  None of them looked around, none paused, they all just kept walking and I kept sliding and screaming until I’d wake.

With all these decades of hindsight I find that dream of a four-year-old amazing.  I had no business knowing that much about people, about life, about my particular gene-pool at that age. 

At the time my mom was between marriages and we were living in Causey, New Mexico in a two-room shack with no running water, an outdoor toilet, maybe no electricity, though we might have had electricity.  I can’t recall.  My granddad’s presence in the area was the only thing to draw us there.  My mom was doing anything, seamstress work, pulling cotton, trying to operate a miniscule variety store in the house to earn a living. 

A deeply troubled young woman with three kids and almost certainly more nightmares of her own to keep her company than anyone purely needs.  Her financial woes gradually improved when she married again, but my thought is her mental processes turned concurrently to lies and manipulation.  Maybe they’d never been otherwise.

Such a woman!  I don’t believe my sisters ever recovered from the experience of having her for a mother, of always being caught in the vice of ‘love your mother’ and that mother being a destructive, master manipulative sociopath.  I believe I did recover, but it’s just me believing it.  I do know that when she died a couple of years back and I heard the news I felt nothing but a sense of deep relief, of peace.

I suppose it was the neighbor got me thinking of this.  He came down bringing a cup of expensive coffee before dusk.  As we sat he told me about some trial in Florida of a man who killed someone who was beating him up in a parking lot.  An angry tale of violence and racial politics and justice.

As he described it to me I remembered something else he’d told me a while back, off-hand and matter-of-fact, about how his father had murdered two, maybe three people he [the neighbor] knew of.  One a whiskey salesman who didn’t get his purchases for the bar he operated delivered.  Beat him to death on the sidewalk in front of his bar.  Another salesman he beat badly might have lived, might have died.  I can’t recall for certain because when I heard the story I was still digesting the first salesman.

The next homicide by his father he was sure of involved a Mexican [or at least a Hispanic] who did farm work.  Evidently screwed up a switch on an irrigation pump.  That night the neighbor says the father took his .22 pistol and went out somewhere.  The next day the Mexican farm worker was found dead on the railroad tracks shot nine times with a .22, then run over by a train.

The jokes around town proclaimed it to be the most elaborate suicide ever.

When he told me this story it didn’t include any value judgements, no overtones, no repudiation, no anger of the sort contained in the story of the trial in Florida.

I suppose an infinite number of monkeys pounding an infinite number of typewriters will indeed eventually write the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as someone claimed.  I’ve seen enough families and enough parenting this lifetime to accept that some families and some parenting must fall within the ‘normal’ part of the bell-shaped curve.

But to go a step further and suggest there’s enough ‘normal’ floating around among the father and mother components to celebrate seems to me to be a possible overstatement.  I count myself lucky my nightmares were only my own.  When Bobby Dylan’s song offered to let me be in his dream if I’d let him be in mine I was never tempted.  Still ain’t.

Old Jules